April, 2028, and independent Edinburgh is facing a mounting crime wave. Experts from the utopian university-state of New Oxford recommend an extreme deterrent — a maximum security prison alongside the central tourist zone. At the prison opening ceremony, the unthinkable happens — an Edinburgh guardian is shot. Having linked New Oxford to the assassination, maverick investigator Quintilian Dalrymple travels there to close the case. Once there, he discovers evidence of a ruthless conspiracy extending to his home city and the only way to stop it is to penetrate New Oxford’s mysterious heart — the place known only as the House of Dust.